Seth Wenig/AP
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March 17, 2016 11:20 AM

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City will be a historic one.

For the first time in the parade’s more than 200-year history, all members of the LGBTQ community will be allowed to march, carrying signs and buttons to celebrate the gay community, NBC reports.

Organizers have for years forbid the community from celebrating its sexual identity, holding that doing so would take away from the parade’s intent – honoring Irish heritage.

Many have protested the parade’s longstanding ban on gay and lesbian groups. Irish gay advocates even unsuccessfully sued in the early 1990s, the Associated Press reports.

But now, members of the LGBTQ community will join thousands of marchers as they line Fifth Avenue in the world’s oldest and largest Irish heritage parade on Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will join in the event, ending his two-year boycott over gay rights, according to the parade’s website.

“This March 17th, we will all march together,” the mayor said during a news conference earlier this month. “For the first time in decades, the whole Irish community will come together to celebrate.”

Organizers in Boston, Massachusetts, ended a similar ban, opening its ranks to lesbian and gay groups for the first time last year.

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